(Written by Deon Groenewald. Founder and trainer at Action Factory)

Empowerment is a buzz word that is losing its power. A sad reality that needs to be fixed, by us…

The word itself carries different meanings to different people from different backgrounds, socio economic groups, countries, traditions and beliefs. We all hear the word and create a concept in our minds of what it means.

When I heard it the first time, I thought it referred to an electricity source. How wrong was I? Through the years I heard many various meanings and a diversity of beliefs pertaining to the word empowerment.

What if I told you that the meaning I attached to the word has now gone full circle and I have once again ended up with electricity.

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The core of the word is power, and power can be referred to as electricity

Electricity is a current of power that flows. It flows from a source to a point where it is required to supply power. A power station is the supplier.

Empowered, in this context will therefore mean power station.

As an empowered person, I can therefore supply power to others. It flows from me to them.

I cringe when I hear someone tell me that they are empowered and all I see is that the lights are off.

  • We don’t go and listen to a speaker for two hours and suddenly walk out empowered. Sorry, you are motivated. Your feeling lasts only for a limited time and then you will need more.
  • We don’t go to sleep one night and wake the next day empowered. Sorry, you are awake.
  • You don’t get a job and now you are empowered. Sorry, you are employed.
  • You don’t divorce your abusive partner and now you are empowered. Sorry, you are single.
  • You don’t study for years and now you are empowered. Sorry, you are educated.

After many years in the personal and people development industry, teaching, observing, studying and learning about people and actions, I have abridged the process of developing into real empowerment as follows:

Empowerment is not a once-off achievement, it is a process that consists of five levels.

Level 1:

The first level is when our awareness awakens. We become aware that something does not sit well. Something is wrong. We don’t always know exactly what is wrong, but there is a voice in our core that starts with a whisper and quickly elevates to a scream. Something is wrong!

It is likened to a seed that has been planted. Deep in the soil, surrounded by water and nourishment. In Mother Earth. But in darkness.

Level 2:

Our minds and emotions start coming alive. A very scary time for most people. We understand that there is only darkness around us, but deep in our core we can feel a power that is pushing us, pushing us up. We know there is light somewhere and we start looking. We start observing our environment, people, capabilities, beliefs, values, who we are, and where we are.

Our minds and emotions start looking for something to grab hold of. We fear the darkness and desire the light.

Suddenly the seed becomes a sprout and breaks the soil and stretches into the daylight. This is the moment we find hope. Hope that we can change. Hope that our life can change. Hope is a great power, hope is light.

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Level 3

We now know that we need change and we look around and we measure, compare and judge. We look for options, alternatives, thriving for something better. We look at ourselves in comparison to what we experience on the outside. What do they look like, compared to me?

  • What do they do, compared to me?
  • What do they know, compared to me?
  • How capable are they compared to me?
  • What do they believe compared to me?

Imagine a small plant that has just sprouted in a forest.

In this level we see our shortcomings, limitations and weaknesses. We see them not according to their own value but compared to others.

The small sprout does not say ”wow, I am a fresh sprout”. The small sprout looks at the other trees and says ”wow, look how magnificent they are”.

This is a very important level. This is the time a decision of the will is taken. It is during this level that we comprehend that we need nourishment to grow.

As the young sprout we now start to absorb as much as we can. With resolute determination we learn, develop, grow and absorb everything that makes us grow.

Level 4

We are all created perfectly unequal. We all have our own unique essence.

We are all created perfectly unequal. We all have our own unique essence.

During this time, we start to create our own identity. With the nourishment that is now flowing through our veins we develop our own individuality. We start applying our newfound talents, gifts, capabilities and abilities to carve out our place in the world.

Just as the sprout that is now a strong tree, we claim our space. This is me. This is who I am. This is what I am.  We are now at the stage where most people will say we are empowered. Sorry, you are just strong. Graciously strong.

Level 5

This is true empowerment. This is where we find bliss. Love, joy, peace and real power.

This is the day we start to produce fruits.

Empowerment is when we reach a stage in life when we cannot only fully stand strong, stand upright and tall in our own power and strengths, but that glorious day that we feed others and create new seed – new seed that will become sprouts that develop into fruit-bearing giants.

Empowerment is when we have something that is so beautifully magnificently glorious that we inspire others to become better. It is a state of creation that flows from one source to a developing recipient.

Empowerment is when we have more than enough to be self-sustainable and be able to give to others.

Be the powerplant, feed the light bulbs.

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